I truly believe that I was born with Michelle’s kidney and had served as its caretaker until God deemed it time to give it back.
Tom Brady did it again.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion and five-time MVP of the 2021 contest has been an unprecedented leader in the National Football League for over 21 years. At the age of 43, he appears to be both unstoppable and unfazed by any remarks made with regards to his skillset or athletic future. On March 9, at the age of 55, I was grateful for the opportunity to donate one of my kidneys to which “Tom Brady” had a front row seat.
“Of course, I will pray for you. And when you get on the list, let me know. I will get tested to see if I’m a match.”
Michelle and I met eleven years ago when our sons were preparing to enter kindergarten. Both boys were apprehensive about starting school and Michelle and I had independently scheduled a preliminary meet-and-greet with the teacher to help alleviate any anxiety. Our sons quickly became fast friends through their love of sports. As for me, I truly believe it was God’s way of connecting us for what was to become our predetermined lifesaving destiny.
Throughout elementary school, the boys frequently hung out and were often teammates on various baseball and basketball teams. In addition to being legally blind, I would eventually discover that Michelle suffers from an incredibly rare genetic condition called Hereditary Amyloidosis.
Throughout her life, she was grimly aware of the potential diagnosis as her mother, grandmother, cousin, two uncles and countless other relatives all had passed away at an early age from the disease. Although slight in stature, Michelle packs a punch of positivity and did not let the prognosis define her. Instead, she became her own health ambassador by researching and preparing for potential solutions and signs of hope. Many of her friends – myself included – did not know the extent of her illness.
Years passed. The boys went on to different high schools yet remained close friends.
In July 2019, I attended the graduation party for Michelle’s oldest son. It was at this event Michelle shared with me that her life would soon depend on a kidney transplant and asked if I would say a prayer for her to get placed on a transplant list.
“Of course, I will pray for you. And when you get on the list, let me know. I will get tested to see if I’m a match.” The voice was all mine. The words, however, were distinctly Divine.
A couple of months later, prayers were answered, and Michelle was placed on the list. It is somewhat rare for non-related individuals to be a kidney match. Regardless of that fact and with faith, I went through the initial testing process. On December 6, 2019, a woman from the Cleveland Clinic called with my test results and asked if Michelle was my sister. I replied, “No.” She then exclaimed, “Wow! You are 100% Michelle’s match.” I then heard my voice cry out “Thank you Jesus. I knew I was.”
I was the only one ever tested to match her.
At this point, Michelle’s kidneys were still functioning enough to get by. By the time the transplant was scheduled, our sons were seniors in high school. The same two kids who met in kindergarten and acted as points of light to connect their mothers to this moment.
Kidneys are not symmetrical. Therefore, medical experts must determine which one to remove and transplant. In most cases, the larger of the two remains with the donor.
Now, I tend to look for humor in any situation and named my kidneys early on in this process. My larger kidney is “Tom Brady”; the smaller one, “Baker Mayfield”. Believe me when I say, these names were chosen at random. Doctors determined early on that Baker, who has revived the Cleveland Browns with his intense and uplifting energy, would go to Michelle.
While Tom, the proven winner and steady veteran, would remain with the homefield.
As with all transplants, however, the game plan may have to adjust. In our case, within days of surgery, the medical team made a game time decision. Tom Brady had been traded. Both Michelle and I were confident in the play call, however, as we already knew God serves as the General Manager.
Successful surgeries took place on March 9, 2021. I was released from the hospital on March 11, World Kidney Day! Tom Brady, the proven winner, and warrior that he is, has been a playmaker from kick-off in Michelle. Baker Mayfield, with his spunk and free-spirited style, has not missed a play call flying solo in me. I truly believe that I was born with Michelle’s kidney and had served as its caretaker until God deemed it time to give it back.